Make the move to Norfolk and you’ll have one of the best and easiest cycling routes in the country on your doorstep.
Listed as one of the UK’s best and easiest cycling routes by The Times newspaper, any cyclist and wildlife lover will rejoice in covering the miles along Marriott’s Way. The 26-mile route runs from Norwich (a mere 15 min walk from the mediaeval town centre) to Aylsham’s Bure Valley Railway station and runs along two disused railway lines.
The route itself is named after William Marriot - chief engineer and manager of the Midland and Great Northern Railway system.
@CyclingWTKids: “The Marriott’s Way uses the trackbeds of two former railway lines to provide a fantastic cycle route for everyone of all ages and abilities to enjoy.
“A fantastic cycling route which can be as long or as short as you wish thanks to its numerous access points.”
An abundance of wildlife and florals
Marriott’s Way traverses different landscapes, from lush oak, hawthorn and ash woodlands dappled in sunlight to beautiful and bucolic meadows filled with primroses and orchids.
There are also terrific views of the river Wensum en route. In fact, this cycleway is abundant with different animals, birds and plants – whether river-based or on land. From gatherings of thrushes, flocks of geese, rabbits, berries and rosehips in the skeletal winter to flitting butterflies, dragonflies, kestrels and owls on the lookout for prey, grass snakes and electric blue kingfishers in the green canopied summer. Each season offers plenty of nature scenes to contemplate and be humbled by. You can also spot many artworks along the path, from steel installations to sculpted wooden benches, concrete sculptures and slender granite monoliths
Pretty market towns en route
As well as the wildlife, Marriott’s Way offers access to the historic market towns of Reepham and Aylsham. Why not stop off in Reepham for a stroll through 18th-century houses and possibly stumble across one of their many antique fairs or the Wednesday morning country market? And if you’re in need of a stomach-filler and a rest, you can put your feet up at the beautiful red brick Dial House, an early 17th-century brewery now converted into a restaurant and hotel. Or, similarly to Reepham, the traditional market town of Aylsham holds markets on Mondays and Fridays and is home to an array of tea rooms and pubs for a well-deserved snack or meal.
Cycling for all types of bike use
Whilst the entirety of Marriott’s Way is bike-friendly, different portions of it offer varying surfaces and rides. Section 1 and 2 (stretching from Norwich to Drayton and Drayton to Lenwade) are hard, well-maintained surfaces suitable for all levels of cyclists (part of Sustrans National Cycle Route one). Section three (from Lenwade to Reepham) is a wetter, muddier landscape and it’s better on a mountain bike. Section four (from Reepham to Aylsham) is more tranquil, suitable for all cyclists, and has wide open Norfolk skies to cycle under.
As well as the famous Marriott’s Way, Norwich is surrounded by several other great cycle routes, such as the Norfolk Coast Cycleway, Weavers’ Way and Peddars Way, all with very different landscapes and charms, including varying species of birds and wildlife to spot and photograph - should you be fortunate enough to get the opportunity.
Lastly, Sloughbottom Park’s BMX track in Norwich is perfect for those who are out for an adrenaline rush.